Emily Long – Digital Editor
On Aug. 13, 2019 students were soaking up the last weeks of summer before they headed back to Lasell College. However, that would soon change. Students wouldn’t be returning to Lasell College in the fall. That morning, President Michael Alexander appeared in our email inboxes, class Facebook pages and social media feeds to announce “Lasell University.”
It’s not every day that an institution founded in 1851 decides to change their name. Many students had their own ideas about the transition. For some, the name change seemed like a purely financial decision. For many students, they believed that the transition happened too quickly.
The idea that the transition was a purely financial decision isn’t something that could be considered a random idea. With the growing national trend of small liberal arts colleges closing and with two colleges in our area folding due to financial pressure, Lasell students are more than right to be skeptical about our financial standing. However, according to Director of Communications Ian Meropol, finances are not something we should be worrying about.
“Our resources are incredible by our endowment growing by 79 percent over the past 10 years. We are anywhere from $45 and $50 million depending on how the market did that day. If you look at other schools that we are grouped with, that’s really good,” said Meropol.
One rumor about the decision was that Lasell decided to become a university to increase international enrollment. In countries across Europe and Asia, college is similar to high school while university is more akin to our idea of going to college. According to an article by The Boston Globe article, “Small Colleges Hope University Status will Boost their Fortune,” President Alexander said, “about 7 percent of students are international, primarily from Saudi Arabia and China. Officials hope that the university tag will attract more applicants from abroad and ensure that those who come freshman year will stick around through graduation.”
Although the idea of becoming a university had always been whispered amongst faculty, staff and students, when President Alexander first sent the announcement email of a possible transition, it was clear that it was go time for Lasell University.
In the Feb. 2 email from the president titled “Exciting News,” we first learned that the board of trustees voted to go forward with exploring the idea of university status. In true Lasell fashion, a town hall meeting was held in de Witt Hall. However, in emails sent to the Lasell Community the town hall was about the strategic plan for Lasell and it was not explicit in the fact that the meeting would include points on the university status.
Among all the rumors, the change is extremely logical. The fact of the matter is, Lasell has been operating at what is considered university status for years now and our new status better reflects our status as an institution.